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Statements by Disarmament Groups Condemn the Third Nuclear Test by North Korea

12 February 2013

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Statements below by:
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)
People for Nuclear Disarmament and Human Survival Project
The Working Group for Peace and Demilitarization in Asia and the Pacific

DPRK nuclear test raises concerns on humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) strongly condemns the nuclear weapon test carried out today by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), raising concerns that it brings the potential use of nuclear weapons closer.

“As the existing nuclear weapon possessors still argue that their nuclear arsenals are essential for their own security, they only increase incentives for proliferation” says Akira Kawasaki, co-chair of ICAN. “Only when we devalue all nuclear weapons by outlawing them through an international treaty can we reduce the risk of countries like the DPRK developing them further” he continues.

This third nuclear test of the DPRK is reported to be larger than its previous ones, and highlights that the traditional approaches and institutions for preventing nuclear proliferation and achieving nuclear disarmament are not adequate.

“North Korea’s tests are designed to show that it can make different types of nuclear weapons and deliver them against cities such as Tokyo and Seoul, with catastrophic humanitarian consequences.” noted Dr Rebecca Johnson, co-chair of ICAN.

The impact of the use of nuclear weapons has unparalleled consequences on people’s health and the environment and its effects reach beyond borders and throughout generations to impact our environment, economy, food production and commerce; to undermine development goals and to catastrophically harm people worldwide.

Years of atmospheric nuclear tests, as well as the detonation of nuclear bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, have provided incontestable evidence of the catastrophic medical and environmental impact of nuclear detonations, and show how the consequences transcend borders and cause suffering for future generations. In the Pacific, Nevada, and Kazakhstan, for example, the nuclear tests of France, the Soviet Union, United States and the United Kingdom caused severe human and environmental harm to populations living nearby.

“Nuclear weapons are inhumane, unacceptable, and appalling weapons, and no state should be proud to possess them or aspire to acquire them. Maintaining nuclear weapons is not a symbol of power or strength, but instead a constant reminder of the catastrophic humanitarian suffering that they have caused and continuously threaten to cause again” says Beatrice Fihn, editor of the study “Unspeakable suffering – the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons”.

“The latest DPRK test highlights the urgency of all countries, including those without nuclear weapons, to start negotiations to outlaw and eliminate these weapons” says Beatrice Fihn. She notes “More than 400 representatives of humanitarian, environmental, health and peace organizations will be gathering in Oslo, on March 2-3, 2013 during the ICAN Civil Society Forum to highlight the unacceptability of nuclear weapons and the need for an international ban, before nuclear weapons cause another humanitarian catastrophe like Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or worse, ever again”.

Daniela Varano
Campaign Communications Coordinator
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
1, Rue Varembé 1202 Geneva, Switzerland

People For Nuclear Disarmament
Human Survival Project

DPRK Nuke Test Probably Inevitable:

Meanwhile Us, Russia, Maintain 2000 Warheads On High Alert



While the DPRK nuclear test that seemingly took place earlier today was probably inevitable and unstoppable, and while it is indeed an event that could cascade into a round of further nuclear weapons proliferation and that bodes no good for anyone, it has taken place in a context in which the ’official’ nuclear powers, and in particular the US and Russia, continue to maintain 2000 large and highly reliable warheads between them on long – range missiles that are guaranteed to work as designed, and are able to be launched in literally tens of seconds.

Meanwhile, the very vehemence with which the US and others pressed the DPRK NOT to test almost certainly guaranteed that it WOULD test. The threats of pre-emptive strikes recently uttered by South Korea and the US have certainly not helped to calm the atmosphere.

The sad fact is that the best thing to have done with the DPRK’s threats to perform a nuclear test would have been not to make counter-threats, and not to draw any attention whatsoever to an activity that should be regarded as pointless and silly. The test should have been ignored.

A number of questions will naturally now arise from the test. It will be asked if the test represents any significant increase in the DPRK’s nuclear capabilities. Almost certainly it does. It will be asked if the DPRK can actually mount its warheads on a missile. As Pakistan manages to mount its warheads on what are essentially North Korean Nodong missiles, it would seem improbable that the DPRK cannot do so itself, giving it the capability to threaten not only Seoul, but Beijing and Tokyo.

However, there are two questions that overshadow all else in importance:

  1. Will the DPRK test de-rail whatever impetus there is toward nuclear disarmament and global zero? If that is so, the implications for human survival itself could be troubling, as the abolition of nuclear weapons is literally a human survival imperative.
  2. Will the DPRK test cause a cascade of proliferation in Japan, Taiwan, and the RoK? If so again, the number of itchy fingers on nuclear triggers will increase not by one, but by a further three, countries and the likelihood of a nuclear exchange will increase not by addition but by multiplication.

It is of literally existential importance – (and with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty prep-com coming up in Geneva 22April to 3 May) – that no further steps be taken to inflame the situation, which has already been allowed to escalate more than far enough, and that global nuclear disarmament remain on track to complete global zero.

The DPRK’s threats to test, and the test itself, should have been given the attention they deserve: namely, none whatsoever. The hysteria surrounding the test has been exactly what the DPRK wanted all along, and the world is now in a worse situation because of that.

John Hallam
johnhallam2001 at

U.S. Working Group for Peace & Demilitarization in Asia and the Pacific
Statement in Response to Third DPRK Nuclear Explosive Test

1) We come from diverse backgrounds and hold a range of analyses (or perspectives) approaching the proposed North Korean nuclear weapons test and the further militarization of Asia and the Pacific.

2) We oppose the development, possession of, and threats to use nuclear weapons by any nation. We are committed to creating a world free of nuclear weapons. We have deep concerns that North Korea’s third nuclear weapons test contributes to an increasingly dangerous region-wide nuclear arms race. We understand the North Korean test was part of a cycle of threat and response to previous U.S. nuclear threats, and to continued military provocations. We cannot ignore the double standards and hypocrisies of the members of the “nuclear club” who refuse to fulfill their Article VI disarmament commitments of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty commitments by “modernizing” their omnicidal arsenals while insisting that other nations refrain from becoming nuclear powers. While North Korea has conducted three explosive nuclear tests, compared to the United States’ 1,054.

3) We note that beginning with the Korean War, the United States has prepared and threatened to attack North Korea with nuclear weapons at least nine times, that it maintains the so-called U.S. “nuclear umbrella” over Northeast Asia, and that its current contingency plans for war with North Korea include a possible first-strike nuclear attack.[i]<>

4) The Obama administration’s first-term policy of “strategic patience” with the DPRK, reinforced by crippling sanctions that contribute to widespread malnutrition, connected to the stunting of growth in children and starvation, has proven to be a grave failure. The policy has foreclosed crucial opportunities to explore diplomacy and engagement. “Strategic patience”, combined with North and South Korea’s increasingly advanced missile programs, aggressive annual U.S.-South Korean military exercises - including preparations for the military overthrow of the DPRK government - and the Obama Administration’s militarized Asia-Pacific “pivot,”[ii]<> contributed to the DPRK’s decision to conduct a third nuclear “test.”

5) Added to these factors was the January 22, 2013 UN Security Council resolutions condemning North Korea’s December rocket launch and the tightening of the existing punitive sanctions program against North Korea. The double standard that permits all of North Korea’s neighbors and the United States to test and possess missiles, space launch, and military space technologies and to threaten the use of their missiles is extraordinary. It thus came as little surprise that the DPRK responded by announcing plans for new nuclear tests that provocatively "target" the United States. Numerous analysts interpreted the announcement of a possible test as a means to break through the Obama Administration’s failed policy of “strategic patience” in order to bring the U.S. to the table for direct U.S.-DPRK negotiations.

6) 2013 marks the sixtieth year since the signing of the 1953 Armistice Agreement, which established a ceasefire but did not end the Korean War. We join Koreans around the world who call for Year One of Peace on the Korean Peninsula, as well as our partners across Asia and the Pacific who have designated 2013 as the Year of Asia-Pacific Peace and Demilitarization. Peaceful relations between the United States and North Korea (DPRK) are possible and they are more urgent than ever.

Given that unending war remains the basis of U.S.-DPRK relations, which have destabilized the lives of ordinary Korean people and been used to help justify the obscenely large Pentagon budget (equal to the spending of the next 13 largest military spenders – combined!)[iii]<> at the expense of U.S. citizens, we believe it is in the interests of the U.S. and North Korean peoples for our governments to begin negotiations to end the Korean War and leading to the eventual demilitarization and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Peace is possible. We recall that, as recently as 2000, the Clinton Administration came within a hair’s breadth of completing a comprehensive agreement with North Korea, which was derailed by U.S. domestic political crisis over the outcome of the presidential election.

7) In this moment of escalation, we call for proactive measures by the U.S. government as an active party to this crisis. In order to stanch the dangerous nuclear, high-tech, and conventional arms races in Asia and the Pacific, we urge the following:

a. Direct U.S.-DPRK negotiations

b. Suspension of aggressive military exercises by all parties involved in tensions related to the Koreas

c. An end to the UN-led punitive sanctions regime against the DPRK, which hurts/devastates? the lives of the North Korean people.

d. An end to the Korean War by replacing the 1953 Armistice Agreement with a peace treaty

e. Negotiations leading to the creation of a Northeast Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone

f. An end to the U.S. first-strike nuclear weapons doctrine and a reversal of U.S. plans to spend an additional $185 billion over the next decade to “modernize” the U.S. nuclear arsenal and nuclear weapons delivery systems (missiles, bombers, etc.)

g. Commence negotiations on a nuclear weapons abolition convention that requires the phased elimination of all nuclear weapons within a time bound framework, with provisions for effective verification and enforcement.
Working Group for Peace and Demilitarization in Asia and the Pacific*

Christine Ahn , Gretchen Alther, Rev. Levi Bautista, Jackie Cabasso, Herbert Docena, John Feffer, Bruce Gagnon, Gerson, Subrata Goshoroy, Mark Harrison, Christine Hong, Kyle Kajihiro, Aura Kanegis, Peter Kuznick, Hyun Lee, Ramsay Liem, Andrew Lichterman, John Lindsay-Poland, Ngo Vinh Long, Stephen McNeil, Nguyet Nguyen, Satoko Norimatsu, Koohan Paik, Mike Prokosh, Juyeon JC Rhee, Arnie Sakai, ; Tim Shorock, Alice Slater, David Vine, Sofia Wolman

The Working Group for Peace and Demilitarization in Asia and the Pacific is comprised of individuals and organizations concerned about and working for peace and demilitarization in Asia and the Pacific on a comprehensive basis. For more information see:

[i]<> Joseph Gerson. Empire and the Bomb: How the US Uses Nuclear Weapons to Dominate the World, London: Pluto Press, 2007; John Feffer. North Korea South Korea: U.S. Policy at a Time of Crisis, New York: Seven Stories Press, 2003
[ii]<> In October, 2011, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signaled a major transformation of U.S. foreign and military policy, the “pivot” from Iraq and Afghanistan to Asia, the Pacific and the strategically important Indian Ocean. Shortly thereafter, the Pentagon’s strategic guidance named the Asia-Pacific region and the Persian Gulf as the nation’s two geostrategic priorities. Elements of the pivot include “rebalancing” U.S. military forces, with 60% of the U.S. Navy and Air Force to be deployed to the Asia-Pacific region. Military alliances with Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines and Thailand are being deepened and revitalized, while military collaborations with Indonesia, Vietnam, India and other nations are reinforced. The “pivot” is also being reinforced with deeper U.S. involvement in multi-lateral forums across the region and by efforts to create the Trans Pacific Partnership, a supra-free trade agreement that would more deeply integrate the economies of allied nations and partners with that of the United States.
[iii]<> Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
The 15 countries with the highest military expenditure in 2011 (table)

; Defence budgets “Military ranking” Mar 9th 2011, 14:57 by The Economist online,